Grammar Criminal – Flash Fiction

The creative writing teacher’s red pen was doing over-time.

“Oh for Heaven’s sake!” she mumbled as she crossed out yet another line.  Then she started to read Sam’s summer theme.  It began:

ON3 5UMM3R D4Y 1 WA5 ON 7H3 BE4CH O8534V1N6 7WO 61RL5 JUM9IN6 1N 7H3 S4ND 4ND CON57RUC71N6 4 51ND C457L35!


“Fantastic!” she thought to herself smiling.  He was obviously trying to provoke a negative reaction.  Sam was the class revolutionary, a brilliant writer with talent to sell, secretly one of her favorites.  However, how could she correct the theme without falling into the trap he’d set for her she pondered for a while.  She read the theme again twice and there it was:


The next day when she passed the themes back to her students, Sam had a smug smile on his face.  He knew he’d have an F on his paper, but he was willing to risk a lowering of his overall grade in order to get Ms Murray’s goat.

His eyes nearly popped out of his head when he saw a bright red A – at the top of his page and a note that read:

A lovely story and your choice to write in an alternative version of the English language, in the true spirit of the Dada movement, was appreciated.  Please be careful of your spelling in the future – in the first line that should have been 54ND not S4ND!


He looked at the paper several times and couldn’t help admiring how she’d gotten around the trap.

Years past and he became a famous novelist. He had to admit that he’d been a hell raiser and risked throwing his talent away … until Ms Murray’s class. She was always one up on him.  Her parting words at the end of the school year had been:

“Sam you’ve got a great talent.  True, you’re a grammar criminal but just the same, I hope you never change!”

But Sam was never the same again.

Written for Speakeasy #167


An interesting article about mispelling and reading oddities can be found following this link:

Understanding Reading Comprehension: The Scrambled ‘Siceintfic Sudty’

41 thoughts on “Grammar Criminal – Flash Fiction

  1. The hunter becomes the prey! Creative take on the prompt Baset! With my exams on thursday (And Imab00kworm passing right now!) a fresh take on “teacher-student” interactions is just what I needed.


  2. I adore this story! Love the ingenuity of the student – and the savvy of the teacher. (The cat-mouse play between the two remind me of my brother with some of his teachers…I’m surprised more didn’t retire after dealing with him!)


  3. So cute! BUSTED!
    Still — a great teacher — and we have to applaud her method of dealing with the dilemma.

    LOVE how you grabbed this article and ran with it – you are so amazingly talented. 😀


  4. Whoa!!! what a beautiful story my dear!! You see, I knew you were a great teacher!! Just in your posts you teach, encourage and are such a model for us!! My english teacher was terrible with her fanatic red marks, even is she said I was good, I didn’t see that. Fortunately I had Sister Dufferin who saw something I only developed 50 years later…haha


  5. At my school there are two peculiar English teachers (out of four), obviously the two men :p
    I will always remember when last year my teacher burst into the room saying “I am a fire dragon!”
    or that time we were reading The Tempest by Shakespeare and people were banging the tables and chairs, stomping their feet and whooshing like the water and wind, the people reading the text had to shout to be heard over the noise and in the middle of that another English teacher opens the door (one of the women, who happens to be Head of English) and Ben (our teacher) was like “…we’re making a tempest…” and the other teacher was like “yes, I can hear that”.
    Unfortunately this year my teacher wasn’t as fun…


    • But you have the memory of what a teacher is like who loves literature and teaching … he brought the story alive! You were very lucky and I’m glad you shared these wonderful adventures with me!


      • True, but that was before I started blogging… if I have him next year I’ll maybe show him my blog and ask him what he thinks. I was inspired by your memory posts and I’m going to write the story of my life in memories and anecdotes, starting (to write) this summer. If you’re interested I can send you bits of it as it goes along 🙂
        (I won’t be offended if you’re not interested by the way)


  6. At the risk of being another Ms. Murray I have to ask: is the 51ND intentional? If it is, I feel like the teacher should have mentioned it. Or am I reading the word wrong?

    Very clever. And I know quite a few people in my schooling that would do this to get a teacher’s goat!


    • 🙂 we’ll pretend that I didn’t make a typo, but of course I did! Thanks for pointing that out! Thank heavens I don’t teach written English! I’m sure there may be both students like this and teachers as well…but I’m afraid they don’t always have such a happy life together as I’m imagining these two had.


  7. This was great Georgia! I love the story and the video. I like the powerful of message of how the teacher changed his attitude through her positive encouragement and acceptance of who he was. Very well done!


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